Children have always been faced with situations they shouldn’t be in. Although some are more traumatic than others, all should not be experienced by tiny people who should be frolicking in the woods, getting grass stains and should only be crying because they dropped their ice cream at the fair or saw a clown. As much as I or you would like to think that no child has to deal with heavy, traumatic situations, the fact is they do. All around the world and even in our very own America, children deal with unfortunate situations all the time.

The best thing we can do, whether we are the parents, friend, teacher or simply a kind face in a sea of strangers, is to try and ease their pain. One way to do this is to give them a realistic stuffed animal. One that suits their taste. If they’re into science or animals, realistic plush animals such as a dog, cat, or bear cub, are perfect gifts. Studies have shown that animals relieve anxiety of everyone, children as well as adults. Plush animals work in a similar way. It creates a distance between us and the situations we find ourselves in, and gives us that shoulder to cry on when it feels like there’s no one in the world who cares enough.

If you’re child has to deal with a divorce, natural disaster, or even a situation as bad as homelessness, plush animals are a godsend. To make your gift even better, attach Velcro to it so it can hug your child for as long as they need, or be carried around. If you really want the present to be more than simply a toy for them to play with, introduce a backstory for the plushie your child can relate to; however, avoid making it completely the same so it provides an emotional distance, allowing your kid to process the world around them. For example, if your family recently moved away and your kid is very uncomfortable in the new area, make up a backstory about the plushie missing their friends. A story like:

“My name is Squibbles the Squirrel. I used to live in a tree in the forest, but I had to leave because my tree was needed to build a school. Now I live in a new tree. It’s great and all, but I miss my old tree and my friends.”

Your child may relate to the missing their old tree – I mean home, and feel closer to Squibbles. When giving a realistic plush animal to your child, make the presentation creative. Make them sign adoption papers to feel as though they truly are responsible for their new buddy. This instills a sense of companionship and will help them feel not as alone. Encourage activities that can be done with the new stuffed plushie, like the iconic tea or birthday party; or my personal favorite, a picnic!

Stuffed plushies are great gifts for any tiny person. Whether they need a pick me up, or are dealing with a situation they can’t comprehend, stuffed plushies make wonderful gifts!